August 19, 2011

By Catholic News Service

Many see pornography causing societal decline, but say solution elusive

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pornography is being blamed for the deterioration of values in American society. A recently launched campaign, War on Illegal Pornography, contends as much, citing divorce, violence against women, increased sex trafficking and porn addiction as just some of the unhealthy results. But someone declaring porn to be illegal does not work in and of itself. Prosecution of pornography purveyors is required for porn to be found illegal. But even that definition is hard to corral, since no new charges on pornography trafficking have been brought by the federal Justice Department in more than two years, according to Patrick Trueman, president of Morality in Media. One need not be exposed to porn to be degraded by it. Families where only one person watches pornography can be adversely affected, said Mary Anne Layden, a psychotherapist and researcher on the staff of the medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. Trueman, who was the chief enforcement officer for the Justice Department’s child exploitation and obscenity section in the last year of Ronald Reagan’s presidency and for all four years of the George H.W. Bush administration, said that, before he became Morality in Media’s president, he was asked by its board chairman two years ago why pornography had become less of a priority. “It’s easy to see why,” Trueman said he replied. “The Justice Department has moved this way down” on its priority list. Thus began the War on Illegal Pornography, a coalition of 110 organizations that want existing laws to be enforced. Among coalition members is the Catholic Family Institute, which monitors United Nations issues. “The reason we started the War on Illegal Pornography was to get the Justice Department to prosecute cases. But we never expected the Obama administration to be our champion,” Trueman told Catholic News Service. “The administration might take on a couple of cases, but the next administration — he or she, if it is a Republican — might be persuaded to take cases.”

Belarus Cardinal Swiatek dies at 96; survived decade in labor camp

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Retired Cardinal Kazimierz Swiatek of Minsk-Mohilev, Belarus, died July 21 at age 96. He retired just five years ago after more than 65 years of active ministry and several run-ins with the Soviet police. In a telegram of condolence, Pope Benedict XVI said, “I recall the courageous witness he gave to Christ and his church in particularly difficult times, as well as the enthusiasm with which he later contributed to the spiritual rebirth of his country.” He was born Oct. 21, 1914, into a Polish family in Valga, now in Estonia. When he was a young boy, he and his family were exiled to Siberia by the Russian czar. The whole family was allowed to return to Belarus after the 1917 Russian Revolution, and he was ordained to the priesthood in 1939. Two years later, he was arrested by Soviet police and condemned to death as a “reactionary cleric.” He escaped and resumed his pastoral work when Nazi Germany’s army invaded in June 1941. But in 1944, when Belarus changed hands again, he was arrested again, sentenced to 10 years in a labor camp and sent back to Siberia. Released at the end of his sentence in 1954, Cardinal Swiatek ministered in Pinsk until 1991 when Pope John Paul II created the Archdiocese of Minsk-Mohilev and named him archbishop. Created a cardinal in 1994, he continued to serve as archbishop until 2006 when he was already past the age of 91.

Foundation promotes spiritual guide to foster deeper devotion to Mary

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The head of a foundation encouraging Catholics to have a deeper devotion to Mary said that having a relationship with the mother of God “is more than just a bonus. It’s a calling for us to renew and keep our baptismal promises and to answer God’s call to imitate Christ,” said Anthony Mullen, executive director for the Children of the Father Foundation, based in Pennsylvania. Through the foundation, Mullen has been working for more than a decade to enlighten Catholics about the spiritual aid he says Catholics can receive through a devotion to Mary. Now the foundation is promoting a new website that has been created to reintroduce a centuries-old spiritual guide by St. Louis de Montfort (1673-1716) called “Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary,” a 34-day spiritual exercise. Canonized in 1947, St. Louis was a French priest and known in his time as a preacher and author, whose books, still widely read, have influenced a number of popes, including Pope John Paul II. He is considered as one of the early proponents of the field of Mariology as it is known today. He also placed a major emphasis on recitation of the rosary. The title on one of the saint’s prayers to Mary, “Totus Tuus” (“Totally Yours”), was Pope John Paul’s episcopal motto, which expressed his dedication to Mary. He gave her great space in his writings and catechesis, and he consecrated populations and continents to her care. In an interview with Catholic News Service, Mullen said he believes that reciting the rosary and having a love for Mary is an essential response to answer God’s call to holiness. The foundation is making St. Louis’ spiritual guide “Total Consecration” available for free from its website http://www.myconsecration.org. More free supplemental materials are also available at the site.

Pro-life, anti-war Hatfield had high regard for and from Catholics

PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) — When politics got rough for Mark Hatfield, he headed to a Catholic church to pray. The former U.S. senator from Oregon, a prominent advocate of nonviolence, died Aug. 7 at 89. One of the nation’s most influential lawmakers for decades, Hatfield was a Baptist Republican with high regard for Catholic social teaching. He had a habit of walking to St. Joseph Church on Capitol Hill to clear his head. “When you’re praising God, you’re taking your thoughts off yourself,” he once told the Catholic Sentinel, newspaper of the Portland Archdiocese. Hatfield, who had been ill for several years, died at a care center in Portland. He was Oregon’s governor for eight years before serving in the Senate from 1966 to 1996. In a 1994 interview with the Catholic Sentinel, Hatfield said he saw himself as a statesman taking Jesus as the ultimate role model. “It was totally revolutionary and is still revolutionary to think that a leader is a servant,” Hatfield said. “I try not to be the manipulative powerful leader on the white charger, but the servant leader.” Among his heroes were spiritual writer Father Henri Nouwen and Blessed Teresa of Kolkata, whom he met. But he said he gained the most “spiritual power” from regular people who prayed for him.

Mass translations are a challenge in every language, official says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In Italian the verbs “to translate” and “to betray” sound very similar and have given birth to the adage, “To translate is to betray.” Msgr. Juan Miguel Ferrer Grenesche, undersecretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, cited the saying in an interview Aug. 9 with the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, about the task of translating Mass texts and the Bible. English-speaking bishops are about to see stacks of new Roman Missals, the fruit of their long labors in commissioning, perfecting and obtaining Vatican approval for a new English translation of the prayers used at Mass. The Italian bishops’ conference continues working on its new translation of the missal while the French bishops are working on both the missal and a new translation of the Bible, Msgr. Ferrer said. He told the Vatican newspaper that the whole “translator-betrayer” idea “is true to a great extent since the translator, even if involuntarily, can betray the text because it’s not easy to faithfully transmit a text in another language.” “On the one hand, you must be faithful to the original and to the author’s expressions; on the other, you must respect the genius of the language into which the text is being translated,” he said. “It’s not an easy balance to reach,” the monsignor said.